In a totally out of character move for me I actually gave this post some joined up thinking before I put finger to keys. At least 30 minutes. Really; most posts are just stream of consciousness outpourings of opinion, so expressed in percentage terms it is a hell of a difference.
For the past 3 or so years I have been going back and forth with the founder of a small process improvement management consultancy. It’s never been the right time for some legitimate reasons. Now it is right for him and so wrong for me. It’s flattering to be wanted, I guess.
As dry as this topic sounds it was something I gave a lot of thought to when I had Only Organic. It was not about selling veg it was all about fulfilment of a perishable product. Screw it up and you’ve spent money. Process improvement, get it right and you save money. The role we have been discussing is also interesting because it plays to my strengths of enthusiasm for using technology and business development.
<<- as a total aside, I am sitting in a nice cafe in Oxford with good WiFi, and at the table beside me are two people that are struggling to have a conversation. Obviously not boyfriend and girlfriend and he is less interested that she is. It is alternately fascinating and annoying and great fodder to write about. She has a nasty antipodean grate which was hard to place until the mention of going home to live in Wellington. Moaning about the price of everything, the weather, the inconveniences etc etc. As hard as I am trying not to earwig, which is helped by her being partially unintelligible as her voice makes a sharp upturn at the end of every sentence and pens are pins etc etc, I have gathered that she went to London, didn’t like it but spent £100 seeing two ghastly sounding musicals. She then shared with the poor long-suffering chap that she was tempted to look inside the Savoy and see how the other half live etc etc… I fought back the urge to explain that it would have been far more enjoyable to spend her £100 on a decent lunch at the Savoy rather than on The Lion King etc… There is a strong urge to lean over, give her a tenner and invite her to fuck off home where it is so wonderful. Since I am being a bitch then, in the interests of completeness, she has a moustache that I’d be proud of. Really, I can’t look over as I will just be staring at the facial furniture. I know, I am going straight to hell for being an insensitive prick. I have come to terms with that long ago. ->>
I drove home from the meeting with the MD and the FD with the agreement to start in July. I have decided to write to Peter – the MD – as I just cannot pass the opportunity to do this degree. Chance of a life time and all that. People keep asking me what i’ll do with a History degree. The truth is that I have no idea. What I do know is that I’ll go down unknown avenues and meet interesting people. From that I am sure opportunity will present itself.
In the meantime I get on well with the lads at the local bike shop to the point where for a couple of pack of Hob-Nobs – why does this sound like the start of Jimmy Savile style tale? – I can use the workshop and store my bike there. They are around the corner from my new gaffe in Jericho and an ideal job would be working there. I have shared this with the owner and he didn’t fall about laughing. What a great job to dovetail around being a stoodent. I must drop by soon, eat biccies, drink tea and try again to be hired…
PS: being on a computer with several tabs open I skipped across to an Indy interview with the Rev. Richard Coles. He is a bit of a meeja vicar and made a v. pithy remark to the reporter that I think fairly sums up this blog: “We frequently sail perilously close to the banal…”
So it’s my one hundredth post and I feel that I ought to go above and beyond to delight your eyes and tickle your neurons. Am not sure if length compensates for quality, but here goes nothing…
This post will look back over the last year or so and may even cast an eye to the future. Mostly though it’s going to be a fun if slightly rambling ticklist of what has happened and what I have learned, about myself and others.
Let’s start with the big stuff then. On Boxing Day 2011 we took the very difficult decision to get divorced after fourteen years of marriage. Having eloped and gotten married three weeks after meeting I figured we had done pretty well considering. Our biggest surprise was at how shocked others were. The one ginourmous issue was our daughter and making it ok for her. As we weren’t fighting terribly it wasn’t the down tools and storm out with loads of screaming and shouting scenario so we tried very hard to go about it like grown-ups and included H in almost all of the discussions and very patiently and carefully explained it all to her, because we felt it was much better to be open, honest and to be seen to be acting cooperatively rather than adversarially. So far she appears contented with the fact that we are happier not being married, which is better for her as well. I like the fact we do the odd meal and movie together as a family.
As an aside; I am baffled at how others could even consider using their kids as a weapon to wield against the other person. That is just inexcusable selfishness. Despite our differences I know that L is a great Mum and is a thoroughly decent person. H knows we both love her, we live close to one another and she is always welcome at whatever house she chooses. She is approaching teenagedom so it’ll get more interesting I am sure. I was a ghastly know-it-all. Gulp.
Until the decision to divorce I had been a stay at home dad for the previous four years so essential to effect the divorce was for me to go back to work. It took a a few months but I landed a decent job as a – get this for a mouthful – Global Strategic Account Manager in the publishing industry. This started in June ’12. It was hard fought for but I won it and was given a decent salary. Result. Oh, and by the way, I was a publishing industry outsider which was the alleged reason why I was hired. Fresh eyes, new approach, we need to turn around a decline etc etc… Ha.
Having have had v. mild MS for the last 20 odd years I am fortunate enough to still be very physically able and am still a bit gullible when silly challenges are suggested. I agreed, with a mate, to enter a 24h, 240 mile (386km for you metric folks) cycle ride from London to Brussels. After all, who wouldn’t see this as a way of raising money for the local MS research team? Oh yeah, we decided to do it on single speed, fixed gear bicycles ‘cos who doesn’t like to up their game by making it a little harder? Uphill? Cowboy up cupcake and pedal harder. Downhill? Relax Grasshopper and spin.
Climbing took a back seat, as did other stuff and I upped my swimming for the cardiovascular benefits, got a proper bike fit and started entering events and training hard. I recall May 27th 2012 being a quite lovely morning. I woke early and as I had an hour or two before the day started proper I went for a ride to make this my first 200 mile week on my fixie. Wham, threw away banana skin (stop laughing) and unsettled myself so much I hit the floor. Hard enough to crush my helmet, shatter my right collarbone and snap my right femur just below the head. I have covered this before but 3 ambulances and 6h of surgery later I was not a well chappie.
My other big MS news is to do with drugs. I have been on a two-year trial and am one year into the follow-up of an oral MS drug. It turns out that it is the hot new thing and had just been approved in the US (approval by the FDA is the big hurdle in drug development). Catchy name as well. Tecfidera just rolls off the tongue. Still, it’s better than Dimethyl Fumerate I suppose. Additionally, it beats the bejesus out of injecting daily. That was no fun carrying around all the paraphernalia.
I got out of hospital after just a week (sheer bloody-mindedness is a powerful thing and being in hospital is really crap) and pushed very hard to start my great new job as it was all part of the “gain economic independence so we could get divorced” masterplan. I was v scared that it would all end in disaster but I didn’t really appreciate just how badly I had banged myself up. Life loves it’s little curve balls though and disaster duly struck! I lost the job after only 2.5 months. Pushed or made redundant? All I can remember is that it was a combination of circumstances, but I certainly didn’t help myself by being very drugged, to the point where I had started to perceive my perma-stoned state as normality. BEWARE long-term opiates. It is v insidious the way in which your reality is altered, firstly with big hits of pharmaceutical grade heroin – much needed roadside and post-operative relief – and then I was tapered onto seemingly harmless Co-codamol tabs. They worked magnificently well as pain control but whilst taking them I was a sleepwalker in my own life and it took quite a while for the after-effects to go. Knowing what I know now I’d go for the pain every time. On the bright side I made some interesting new friends.
Another bike was required but with gears and somehow I came to own a Spin Spitfire, which is c 7.5 kg of titanium awesomeness. A minor hitch is that after the big injuries have abated a bit the smaller niggly stuff is here. My right ankle is still so messed up and I can’t ride this thing of beauty. Still, with the shit winter we have had it is a blessing in disguise. If it had a bell it would sound like “Bllliiiinnnggggg Bllliiiinnnggggg” !
Freshly unemployed I was really feeling at a loss but also felt like I was at a significant juncture in my life, and shouldn’t waste it. On my bucket list has been to earn a degree. Not really to do something with, as that’s a bit late now, but just to do one. I know I am bright but it would be putting my money where my mouth is. Long story short I have been offered a place to read history at Ruskin College in Oxford. I have been told that saying “Oxford” is tantamount to “passing off” and it isn’t part of the university proper, although I’m not that bothered as it is better than going to an ex-poly. It is sort of kind of as there are interrelationships with some parts of “proper Oxford”. Most importantly is that I know I should do it and, short of being offered an awesome job (that is one that is better than just being well remunerated but is actually interesting, with interesting people), I shall.
A history degree from Ruskin. How cool is that? I don’t care if it is from one of the newest colleges. Besides, as an Oxford student an entire years swimming at the groovy Rosenblatt Pool is just £80. That alone is a great incentive.
The other bucket-list item I ticked off was getting a 911. It is not as whimsical as it sounds as it has been the only car that has captured my attention ever since I was a kid and, without being too melodramatic, I reckon the MS will get me at some point so before I toddle off to Switzerland I need to know I have had one, once. So I decided to get a decent one that had been well loved and wasn’t going to do its brains in depreciation. It costs less to insure than the massive estate car (station wagon for you dang foreigners) I was driving around in. It requires a steady diet of premium petrol (that’s gas for you dang…) and tyres so I expect to be buying shares in the oil & rubber companies to mitigate the expense.
Who knows what the future holds. I have a good feeling though as I think all sorts of previously unforeseen avenues will show themselves. I am grateful to be here and happy and surprised at the way things seem to be turning out for the better. However, before I get too contented I must never forget that life is a cruel mistress and is probably just waiting for the right moment to bugger things up again.
If there is a lesson then it is only for me, as it smacks of a kind of arrogance to start telling others what to do just because that’s what worked for you. However, it seems to be the formula for many a lucrative line in self-help books so perhaps I am missing out.
My only advice would be the following; Illegitimi non Carborundum which translates as Don’t Let The Bastards Grind You Down.